Alberta’s use of public-private partnerships to conduct infrastructure projects has been suspended, the provincial infrastructure minister announced late last month.
Minister Brian Mason, who is launching the province’s five-year C$34 billion capital construction program, stopped short of declaring a total ban of P3s, as did Premier Rachel Notley, but said a review of all alternative financing approaches is in order. He indicated, however, that P3s the previous government approved before Notley took office a year ago will proceed, reported the Calgary Herald on April 27.
The decision about whether to pursue future P3s will not be made until executive counsel in the premier’s office finishes reviewing an internal report about P3s the province has conducted, said Mason, who spearheaded the report.
Mark Romoff, president and CEO of the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships said in an April 29 statement that he agreed with Notley’s plans to review those projects but urged Mason to release his ministry’s report to the public “to allow Albertans the benefit of engaging in a thoughtful, informed discussion about the merits of public-private partnerships.”
Romoff noted than an independent, 10-year economic assessment of Canadian P3s — which is publicly available — “has determined the projects saved governments nearly $10 billion, generated $7.5 billion in taxes and $32 billion in income for workers. They have created more than half a million jobs and contributed $48.2 billion to GDP.”
Mason said he probably would release the report because much of it draws on confidential Treasury Board and cabinet discussions.
In separate news, Canada’s Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi wrote letters to Mason and provincial infrastructure ministers nationwide April 22, saying that cost-sharing requirements in the 2014 New Building Canada Fund would be altered to permit the federal government to cover up to 50 percent of the costs of provincial P3s. Sohi also stressed in his letters the importance of publicly reporting governments’ infrastructure investment programs and outcomes.
“We are committed to publicly reporting on the progress under these programs to demonstrate we are achieving the results that Canadians expect and deserve,” he wrote. “We will need to work together in order to provide timely reports to Canadians on the results achieved through our collective investments in infrastructure. For example, a priority under the new programs is extending the useful life of existing infrastructure assets. We plan to work collaboratively to ensure that we have an effective way to measure and report on this and other key outcomes and results of these programs.”